Necessary Information

In-depth Look at Grooming

Grooming is the action of attempting to form a relationship with a child or young person, with the intention of sexually assaulting them. Although the official definition states that an older person grooms a younger person, anybody can groom anybody. There’s no age limitations when defining whether a person has been groomed or not, or if a person is a groomer. Because of social media, grooming has become easier and has made younger people far more accessible. Grooming may look like an older person showing a preference for you, whether they are a teacher, family friend, classmate, or coworker. These predators look for vulnerable children and teens, possibly ones who have already undergone a trauma. There are variations of tactics used to groom someone, but there seem to be two categories: aggressive and subtle.  

An aggressive groomer can be blunt, forceful, and manipulative. They may tell you how to dress, act, where to go, and who to hangout with. The groomer may “joke” about sexual acts or behavior, making the victim feel bad if they “don’t get it” and react negatively. This is a form of manipulation used often by groomers: passing off inappropriate words as jokes in an attempt to make you more comfortable with more intimate conversations. Requesting to “hang out” to get the victim alone, and offering gifts or small bribes in exchange are common. Being alone with an aggressive groomer can often lead to sexual assault, rape, or dangerous drug related activity, like dealing. 

 The other type of grooming, subtle, often looks like receiving affirming words from the perpetrator, gifts, or other positive behavior. Love bombing is the act of giving love and attention to someone in order to manipulate them into doing something for the bomber, and is a popular tactic for subtle groomers. This type may make you believe you can trust them by being a “yes man,” and agreeing with you on everything. They may convince you they are kind and caring. However, they may subtly shift the relationship to a more intimate one. They may pretend to respect your boundaries by asking for consent and asking if everything is okay, and their seeming kindness could make the victim feel bad about saying no.

If at any time, anyone feels like they are being groomed or it is possible they may be groomed, it is important to cut contact with the abuser and tell a trusted adult. It would be smart to block the suspected groomer and be sure that any social media profiles are private in the event they make a different account. Following internet safety protocols is an important step to take to prevent being groomed.

Following internet safety protocols is an important step to take to prevent being groomed.

It is difficult to tell if someone close to you is being groomed, however, obvious signs could include being more secretive with their phone or having a new “friendship” with an older person. One source said she was affected by their groomer to the point of not eating lunch at school, not sleeping at night, being overly sensitive, and even having angry outbursts during times of stress. They did confirm it was mostly related to the relationship formed with the groomer. Some of these signs may be visible, but the most important thing is to ask your friends, family, and classmates how they are doing and try to keep in touch with their social lives.

The topic of grooming should not be as arbitrary as it is, considering it happens so often. This is a serious topic parents need to become knowledgeable of and begin discussing it with pre-teen age children to keep them safe.  People should talk more about what it means to be groomed and that it is not embarrassing or any fault of the victim.